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Comments by me and by Kathleen Rowe re prayer flags and wolves

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  • gerald baker
    This hypothesis was brought to my atention by my old friend Bob Schlesinger, who attended the University of Northern Iowa, here, in the 1970s, and is a patent
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2004
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      This hypothesis was brought to my atention by my old
      friend Bob Schlesinger, who attended the University of
      Northern Iowa, here, in the 1970s, and is a patent
      attorney in the Los Angeles area. It reminds me of
      some remarks by a character in the novel "Walden Two,"
      by the psychologist B.F. Skinner, published in 1948.
      It was about controlling the behavior of sheep.

      In the story, sheep were first fenced in by an
      electric fence. Eventually, the fence was replaced by
      string with pieces of colored cloth hanging from it,
      and the sheep came to transfer their fear to the
      string. The older sheep somehow transfered their fear
      to the younger ones, so that sheep who had never been
      shocked still feared the imaginary fence.

      Gerald Baker

      From: Kathrowe40@...
      Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004 16:11:16 EST
      Subject: Re: Were Tibetan prayer flags invented to
      "fence in" the wolves?
      To: glbaker50613@...

      I have seen a few movies on TV that were produced in
      China and Mongolia in which the stories were set in
      the far past. Most about generals and wars, of course,
      and the war banners were plentiful. In the case of
      war, such flags would have been used for identifiction
      of forces, and to make a frightening impression of
      insurmountable numbers on the enemy.

      If Tibetan prayer flags were originally invented with
      regard to wolves, I should think they would have been
      to keep them out of the village. Anything that isn't
      "natural" is likely to frighten off any wild animal.
      By extension, it's possible the idea could have
      transformed into a device to keep spirit demons out of
      the village as well.

      I dunno though. The idea that Tibetan prayer flags
      might have evolved from fencing in wolves doesn't
      really have face validity to me. When peoples around
      the world have prayed, they've come up with all sorts
      of devices to either get the attention of the gods, or
      to ritually solemnize their actions, or to "send" the
      prayer to the gods (who are usually in the sky or
      air). Candles, incense, horns, bells, claps, chants,
      songs, you name it. A banner waving and snapping in
      the wind is as good a device as any to get the
      attention of the gods and to send a prayer into the
      wind toward heaven. I think it stands alone and
      doesn't have to have evolved from some other practical
      tool. If anything, I should think that upon observing
      wolves were afraid of prayer banners, fencing in the
      wolves would have evolved from that.

      You'd have to ask a Tibetan. :)

      Kathleen




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